While debating political topics on Facebook I have a ‘friend’ that accused me of being ‘ideological about rejecting ideology’ and I decided to write on this topic and argue that this posited proposition is invalid. For the purpose of clarity I have drafted up the following definition of ideology, which is loosely based on the ideological theories of Slavoj Zizek:
Ideology is an unconscious notion that is composed of ideas, actions, motivations, goals and expectations of society that implicitly reinforces a social order and permeates into the conscious mind as an internally perceived idea of truth that manifests externally as a norm.
Please note that there is no value judgment in this definition, meaning the ‘perceived truth’ is not right or wrong. Ideology is amoral, in of itself- it has no determinable moral worth. One could posit that Gandhi was ideological in his pursuance of peace, but we can also posit that Hitler was ideological in his pursuance of genocide. Being ideological does not, by definition, assert moral value- only the actions of the ‘perceived truth’ do.
So if ideology in essence is ‘perceived truths’ then the original proposition of ‘ideological about rejecting ideology’ could be rewritten as follows:
I perceive it as true that we should reject perceived truths.
As an agnostic that persistently rejects ideas of truth in ontological theories (theism and atheism) I have been accused of being hypocritical, as if I was arguing using the following proposition:
It is absolutely true that absolute truth does not exist.
As you can see both of these statements seem to be self-negating propositions in almost the exact same way. But this is not true (pun-intended), because the statements are using two different versions of truth of which I will explain. Deductive reasoning is an argument that if the premises are true the conclusion is true with absolute certainty and inductive reasoning is an argument that if the premises are true the conclusion is true with (subjectively) high probability. So, we can rewrite the second proposition as follows:
It is absolutely true (by means of deduction) that absolute truth (by means of induction) does not exist. In other words, I can use deduction to prove induction is not deduction…if that made any sense. Samples of deduction go as follows:
1 added to 1 ∴ 2
John has a sister named Cindy ∴ Cindy has a brother named John
A then B, B then C ∴ A then C
As you can see in these examples, if the premises are true then the conclusions are true with certainty.
Deduction requires truths with certainty; ideological truths are not certain ∴ ideological truth is not deduced.
But this does not necessarily answer the original proposition. Can I be ideological about my rejection of ‘perceived truths’ in ideology?
Is my rejection of the ‘perceived truth’ a ‘perceived truth’ of itself? No. If I am rejecting subjective induction on the grounds that ideology, as a product of the unconscious mind, cannot be reliable as an objective agent to show probability of truth and my reason for doing so is rooted in a categorical rejection of induction as being capable of reasoning absolute Truth- which I am reasoning by deduction. Therefore my rejection is not perceived as true, but objectively true- with certainty.
I understand that my argument only has value if I categorically reject all ideology- including Gandhi’s ideology of peace. This is true. Perhaps he is wrong, maybe we are supposed to be savages and fight and eat meat. Who knows? Not me. That is all I am saying. Or to partly quote Socrates:
I know with absolution that I know nothing absolutely.